How to Get the iPhone 5 If You're Still Under Contract

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The iPhone 5 is finally here, and we don't blame you if you want to run out and get it. This, after all, is the iPhone we thought we were getting last fall, when Apple instead gave us the iPhone 4S, a juiced-up version of the iPhone 4 with the same form factor. This time around the new iPhone has caught up to its Android competitors in a number of ways, including a bigger screen and support for 4G LTE networks for the first time.

If you're up for a new contract -- that is, you've completed your previous two-year mobile contract and are ready to re-up with your current provider or switch to a new one -- then you're golden. Assuming you liked what you saw in this afternoon's announcement, then you can grab the new baseline (16 GB) model of the new iPhone for $199, the same price point the phones have always had on release (as always, you can pay more for increased storage -- $299 for 32 GB or $399 for 64 GB of space).

But if you're currently under contract -- let's say you bought the iPhone 4S last fall, like I did -- then you're in a tricky position. To get the phone at that $199 price point, you'll need a new two-year contract, and that means breaking your current contract. And that means paying an early termination fee.

That's not as bad as it sounds.

At Verizon, the early termination fee for a two-year contract resulting from the purchase of an "advanced device" (read: smartphone) is $350 minus $10 for each month you've had it. But if your contract is already a year old, you're in better shape -- you're paying around $230 to get out of your contract and into a new one.